Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before Rosh Hashanah by Debbie Gutfreund
Rosh Hashanah gives you the gift of a sacred pause in your life. It’s a time when you can step back and examine not only the past year but also the year to come. It is a time for reflecting on your values and beliefs.
The quality of the questions you ask yourself impacts the quality of your life. Asking yourself these five questions before Rosh Hashanah will help you use the gift of this sacred time.
- What have I learned in the past year?
What can you learn from your successes? And perhaps more importantly, what can you learn from your mistakes? So much happens over the course of the year; it can seem like a blur. Make a list of some of the highlights and transitions that you experienced and some crucial lessons will emerge. You can see patterns that helped you succeed and habits that led to mistakes.
- What are my goals for the coming year?
What would you like to do more of? What would you like to decrease? This pause that the Jewish new year gives you can help you extricate yourself from just living in “survival mode” and step back to reflect on which goals you’d like to accomplish in the coming year. Which areas would you like to grow in? What are your priorities? What would you like to take out of your schedule? What would you like to add that would enhance your life and align with your values?
- Where is God in my life?In the Hebrew month of Elul that precedes Rosh Hashanah, God is closer, even if you aren’t sure how to pray or connect with Him. There is a sacred closeness available now that you can access. Ask yourself if there is space for God in your life. Are you appreciating the awe-filled world around you and the myriad ways in which God orchestrates miracles in your own life? You can start with the short “Modeh Ani” prayer recited when you first open your eyes in the morning to thank God for the gift of a new day (after all, it’s Gal Gadot’s favorite prayer). Or you can try saying the Shema, Judaism’s central declaration that God is One, before you go to sleep to express not only gratitude for what happened that day but to express a desire for a connection with God and an acknowledgement of His importance in your life.
- What am I most grateful for? Gratitude can change how you see the world. When you focus on the blessings you have, you see abundance in your life. Try keeping a simple gratitude journal each day, listing both the small and big things for which you are grateful. Don’t forget the ever-present ones that are easy to forget: your health, your family, food, shelter, education. Sometimes you forget how much you have because you have so much.
- Which relationships in my life need my attention? Is there someone that you need to apologize to? Is there someone that you need to forgive? Maybe there is a friendship that you have let go that you would like to begin again? Perhaps there is a child, a parent or a spouse who needs your attention or your time.
These days leading up to Rosh Hashanah are opportunities to reconnect, to your deeper, authentic self, to the people you love, and to God. Recognize the gift of the sacred pause of these days. Put aside some time to ask yourself these questions to reflect and grow.